Filed under: Healthy Swellness

Healthy Swellness: 2019 Year in Review

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What a year!

I realized sometime late this fall what a wonderful year I’d had so far (and it only got better from there). And I was surprised. The past several years have often wrapped up with a feeling of heaviness as time flies by and a feeling that I’ve just gone through the motions of living. While I still stress and have anxieties about work and finances and exactly where the heck my life is heading, this year I feel I was able to just trust the process a bit more, and in the meanwhile incredible opportunities and experiences filled my year and, yes, I’ll say it, fed my soul.

What I’ll take away from this year:
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New and old friendships that mean the world to me. I read some quote recently about how you don’t lose friends, but  we only learn who the true ones are. I have some friends from childhood, some friendships have developed over the past decade and, thanks to my work and regularly meeting people on press trips, new budding friendships, and I try not to take any of them for granted. If I say, “Let’s grab a drink!” I mean it and want to follow through with meeting up. This year, I was smarter about how I spent my days and who I chose to invest my time with, rather than making plans out of feeling obligated, and am happier for it. I’ve been friends with Jennifer (her site is Travel & Style) for more than a decade but we only more recently started again spending more time together; this is a photo from our trip to Arlington, VA, this year; I’ll be blogging about that soon!

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I am happier when I am focused and present.  With friends here at home, it’s about carving out time in my schedule so we can catch up properly. Making time for the people that matter to me. Putting down my phone (Must I post this photo or that photo in real time? No!). When away from home, it’s about letting go of the need to fit in a million things into my day so I can focus on and enjoy what’s in front of me. I had the most rewarding opportunities this year on some longer travels; I drove my myself (a huge feat in itself for me–as someone who gets really anxious getting lost) through the mountains in Alberta over the course of about two weeks namely in Jasper, Banff, Kananaskis and Calgary(the photo above is at Drumheller, just outside of Calgary). While I’d been nervous about so many hours solo in a car, it was truly a trip of a lifetime and singing out loud with jaw-dropping scenery all around me, every day I felt like my heart was going to explode with happiness.

In August, I spent most of the month pet-sitting in Brooklyn and having the amazing wealth of time to poke around that incredible city made me love New York City even more than I already did because I was able to just be there without stressing about running to this shop and to go see that sight. As someone who tends to be more cautious and practical by nature, I’m so glad I didn’t talk myself out of doing this month in NYC (initially I was super worried about both my cat and dog, managing juggling work from afar and a million other little stresses and I went back and forth for several weeks about whether I could pull off a month away from home). In the fall, with an invite to run the Istanbul Marathon, I ended up staying for several more days after the race than I’d felt comfortable with initially (due to the flight option for my return home, I was there for a full 10 days) and that ended up truly being a gift. Wandering Istanbul and visiting the stunning mosques without the pressure of having to fit in everything I wanted to soak up in a short amount of time was something I know I am very lucky to be able to do. I was able to just soak up the incredible city I was in. And this month, just when I was ready to wrap up an already incredible year with a great trip to the Dominican Republic, I was invited to Thailand and spent an exceptional two weeks (including a few days of personal vacation time) poking around Bangkok, Phuket, Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai. And while the trip started off terribly with my phone going missing upon landing in Bangkok, that upsetting incident just forced me to remember that material things can’t replace the exceptional experiences I had in store, ones I will remember the rest of my life. Like when a baby elephant sat on my lap.

 

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I am stronger than I realize. From making it through some terrible work situations to running a fantastic race where I almost made my Boston Qualifying time, and running a terrible race in Istanbul (it was just two weeks after running Detroit), I realized this year I am more resilient and determined than I give myself credit for. I’ve been told I am hard on myself (but aren’t we all?) and this year I tried to be kinder to myself. It worked sometimes, and of course, I have highs and lows, but overall I think I managed to feel more at ease with me, imperfections and all. Do I wish I were a stronger runner or have accomplished more in my career? Always. But I feel like I’m in a better place to actually make that happen. For many years, I’ve felt incapable of actually doing things, paralyzed by fears and anxiety, but I’m back to being in a head space where I can put plans into action.

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I should do more things that scare me. That drive in Alberta, in many areas where there was no data or GPS reception? I was nervous about it. More terrifying was when I got completely lost during a solo hike on that same trip. Thankfully I found my way (and the lesson from the hike is that I shouldn’t do not frequently used trail solo going forward). This year also brought me to the French Alps, and I ended up paragliding many, many feet up in the air even though I wasn’t quite sure it was something I was comfortable with (long story, but I had somehow confused what paragliding was when I agreed to it and somewhat before I knew it, was harnessed in and in the air!) and it was one of the best adventures I’ve experienced. To be honest, mountain biking in the Alps was much scarier for me. It’s the second time I’ve done it and I go very slowly and the chances of crashing seem so high! But perhaps the most terrifying thing I did was white water rafting in Arizona. My jaw hurt from clenching my teeth so hard. The idea of being tossed out of the raft and having to float and then having to try to get back on the boat all the while potentially hitting rocks, that’s not something I was comfortable with. None of that happened, though; all of these scary things, I forced myself to be brave and nothing bad happened. I need to continue to work on not letting fear hold me back.

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I’ll be going to boyband concerts for years to come. OK, this is not something I realized just this year. I’ve known this a long time, but ultimately, the lesson is to do what makes you happy. If that’s seeing NKOTB and the Backstreet Boys over and over, well, go ahead. Do your thing. I recall mentioning to a friend once that I felt guilty for shopping for myself during Christmas, and she didn’t understand. “You work hard, why feel guilty about buying something for yourself?” she said. And yet this treat-yoself guilt still seems to be ingrained in me but I’m trying to let go of it. This year, I was blessed with seeing NKOTB once, and BSB twice and did I mention I met Howie? So whether it’s cutting out of work to fit in a workout or spending a lot of money on a concert I’ve already seen, I’m worth it. You’re worth it, whatever it is that makes you happy. In my opinion, boyband concerts totally count as self-care.

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Photo credit for this shot of me with Howie goes to Toybox, where the after-party was held; I’m forever grateful the photographer captured this!

Saying so long to the past decade…

With this also being the end of a decade, with such a positive 2019, I feel optimistic as to what the next decade holds. I spent the last 10 years rebuilding my life from what felt like scratch. I had to start the decade with the end of a long-term relationship, then had a few extremely difficult few years where my biggest accomplishment was simply making it out alive (2014-2016 were years I’d rather forget but I try to look at them now as having made me stronger). This decade, I lost my amazing cat Kobe; he was the first pet I had has an adult and he saw me through so many significant moments and that was a crushing loss in 2018. But it’s also the decade I adopted my very first dog, Billie Jean, who makes my heart grow bigger every day.

I’m looking forward to a brand new year and a brand new decade. Here’s to making it an exceptional one!

K xo

 

Leave a Comment December 31, 2019

Travel Swellness: How to make a destination race less stressful

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Running a marathon is a stressful endeavour. As a first timer, you’re stressed about evening being able to complete the distance. As a regular marathoner, you may be focused on trying to run a personal best and there are so many factors you can fret about (getting enough sleep, fueling properly, whether you put in the training that’ll get you that PB, etc.).

And when it’s a destination race you’re running, a whole slew of other factors come into play. You’re not sleeping in your own bed, the travel may have tired you out, you’re eating foods in a different city—there are simply a lot more unknowns to contend with.

My most recent destination race, the Detroit Marathon (where I ran a great race and tried to BQ—check out my race recap) I incorporated a lot of factors to help make the trip less stressful (and learned a few new things that’ll be sure to keep in mind for future destination races):

1. Drive a comfortable, safe car for your road trip. Bonus if it’s sleek and luxurious, too. General Motors Canada let me test drive the Buick Enclave Avenir to Detroit for the race. I’ve driven the Enclave before but not the Encave Avenir. It had so many features that made the drive so much more comfortable and stress-free (more on that later) but the car was so spacious and luxurious (the leather interior is sleek and the seats were so comfortable for our five-hour drive to Motor City). The temp dipped in the evenings, so the heated steering wheel was much appreciated, too. I’ve been on a few road trips where we’ve run into car trouble and you do not need the stress of that when you’re heading to another city to run 42.2k!

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2. Have a GPS you can count on. I have zero sense of direction (anyone who’s traveled with me can attest to how horrible my sense of direction is!), and I know I’d be so much more stressed driving without a GPS. And they’re not created equal. When I drove from Calgary to Jasper, the GPS in the car rental often couldn’t find the destination I was looking for (and if I had a signal, I had to resort to using my Google Maps on my phone). The one in the Buick Enclave Avenir is reliable and gives plenty of advance notice of when you need to make your next turn (I’ve had ones that would only notify you when you are right at the intersection, which meant we always drove right by our turn). The Enclave was also equipped with OnStar, which we didn’t end up having to use, but I always feel safer in a vehicle that is equipped with it.

3. Feel confident about your safety as you drive. When I got my driver’s license when I was 18, cars were very different. Test driving this Buick Enclave Avenir, I appreciated the modern features that allow you to feel really safe. I’d say in general, I find driving to be a bit stressful, but with features like blind-spot assist and the safety-alert seat, the vehicle is helping you to drive more safely, and more safely translates to less stress. Also, not only was the Buick Enclave Avenir equipped with WiFi, it also features wireless charging, and as I count on my phone way too much (that’s another story for another time), nothing stresses me out more than my phone being low on battery and wireless charging is so convenient!

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4. Have great playlists for your road trip. Music plays such a big role in setting the mood. For the first time ever, I created a playlist for my race (mostly a mix of Backstreet Boys, NKOTB, a few 80s hits, 90s hip hop and R n B) and in the Enclave, we had Sirius XM, which for most of the time in the car we had on hip hop but the day before the race, I just needed to chill so switched to a station with low key indie music. I don’t need thumping beats to go with my pre-race jitters! I need to do whatever little rituals I have to do to quiet those nerves about the race, and the SirusXM in the Enclave helped to do that.

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5. Stay in a cozy hotel room filled with natural light. I know some people thrive on being surrounded by runners and the excitement for the marathon, but I prefer an environment that’s relaxed and serene. We were hosted at the Element and it was an ideal place to call home for race weekend. Other runners were also staying here, but not huge groups of runners (or not that we saw anyhow) so I didn’t have the nervous energy of other marathoners to make me feel more anxious about the race. Our corner suite was so spacious, and had so many windows it was filled with natural light and we were able to wake up to the sunrise (well, except for race morning when we got up at 5 a.m.!). With a full kitchen, it would’ve been an ideal spot to prepare a simple pasta dish for dinner before the race rather than wait way too long at the Italian restaurant we went to (which doesn’t take reservations, hence the crazy long wait). I also loved that there’s a Drought juice spot just a few steps from the hotel, and you can stash those cold-pressed juices in the kitchen’s fridge (we indulged in this beet juice post-race, delish!). The Element is a Westin hotel, so it features that Heavenly bed that is so comfortable (we had no problems falling asleep!). The hotel is also nice and quiet; it’s peaceful and serene, but if you’re in need of some white noise, the room also is equipped with a white-noise machine. Oh, and parking the Enclave? It’s simple as a guest at the Element with the valet parking. Parking is not my strength (I will park blocks away rather than parallel park) so I was more than happy to pull up to the Element and hand over the keys!

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I could just as well have gone in a regular car, stayed at an budget-friendly Airbnb and probably could’ve run just as good a race, but having this sophisticated car and a great place to call home while in town for the race made this marathon weekend so much simpler and stress-free.

Thank you to both General Motors Canada and the Element for helping make this Detroit Marathon weekend (and my first visit to Motor City!) an incredible one.

 

Leave a Comment October 29, 2019

Healthy Swellness: Brita giveaway!

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Who’s with me in that you struggle to hydrate well each day? I’m actually no longer convinced you need eight glasses of water daily (and if you’re ready to debate that with me, may I direct to this this New York Times article “No, You Do Not Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day”  written by a researcher who points out that that number comes from a study that people/mediastarting touting as a source ages ago but everyone seems to have ignored a key point to the findings.

That said, I do think I could afford to hydrate more often with water and less often with other beverages (juice, cocktails, wine, coffee). And I, of course, think you need to hydrate adequately to keep your body functioning well.

One tool that helps me with drinking more water is my Brita. In the summer, a glass of cold, crisp water is such a relief on those humid, sticky days (especially when I get home from a run). And I appreciate that the Brita filters out impurities, which I think helps the water taste a bit purer and thus, makes me more likely to drink more of it.

Because I’m a Brita fan and because I’d like to help one of you hydrate better, and let’s all do our part in reducing the number of plastic water bottles ending up in landfills, I’ve got a fantastic Brita prize package to give away! The prize is valued at $100; here’s what it includes:

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Check out my Instagram post for this Brita giveaway and enter on Instagram (details are on the IG post).
  2. Get an additional entry by commenting on this blog post and sharing how you drink your Brita filtered water (Room temp? On ice? With a slice of lime? Cucumber?)

This giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. It is open to Canadian residents. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on my Instagram Stories.  The prize is awarded as is. I am operating this giveaway on my own and it is not associated with Instagram.

Here’s to happy hydrating!

20 Comments April 26, 2019

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